DECLARATION GUARANTEES "PEOPLE FIRST" DURING DROUGHTS
LETHBRIDGE, AB, March 22 /CNW/ - Alberta's thirteen irrigation districts approved a declaration ensuring that in times of drought in southern Alberta, human and livestock needs will be met before those of irrigated agriculture.
This landmark declaration, released today in conjunction with World Water Day, means that should severe water shortages occur, the irrigation districts, which have licenses to utilize 3.4 billion cubic metres of water annually, will work with communities in southern Alberta to ensure people have water for their needs.
"In 2001 there was a severe drought and water supplies were very low," said Alberta Irrigation Projects Association Chair Richard Phillips.
"We worked closely with Alberta Environment and Alberta Agriculture to supply water to communities and other water licence holders in the drought stricken areas. Because of this declaration, these communities can rest assured that the irrigation districts will share water in any future drought," he explained.
As water rights are regulated in Alberta, the declaration commits the irrigation districts to temporarily assign appropriate licensed amounts to other users, such as communities and livestock operators, who have less priority for water than the irrigation districts do.
"No fees will be charged to any users who receive a water assignment under these circumstances," said Mr. Phillips, "but all those who participate in water sharing will also be expected to share the burden of the shortage by implementing water conservation efforts".
DECLARATION AND BACKGROUNDER ATTACHED
Sharing Water for Human Needs and Livestock Sustenance
During Water Shortages
The Alberta Irrigation Projects Association is composed of all 13 irrigation districts in Alberta, duly constituted under the Irrigation Districts Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. I-11. These member districts of the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association declare the following:
WHEREAS the member districts of the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association have been granted water licences, by the Government of Alberta, of considerable quantity for irrigation under the principle of prior allocation; and
WHEREAS the member districts of the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association have prior right to some licensed water relative to the right of some municipal licensees and other domestic water users in the area of the Province of Alberta within and surrounding the irrigation districts, and
WHEREAS the members of the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association recognize that water is vital to sustain human health and well-being, and that of livestock, and
WHEREAS drought conditions are recurrent in southern Alberta as a result of variability of the weather;
THEREFORE the member districts of the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association agree to the following:
In the case of water shortage due to drought conditions that can occur in southern Alberta, the member districts of the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association assure, within their right to control, the following:
i) the member districts will participate in water sharing by temporary assignments with other licence holders with lower priority, in accordance with section 33 of the Water Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. W-3, in good faith, so that sufficient water can be distributed for human needs and livestock sustenance, and
ii) no fee will be assessed for these temporary assignments of water for meeting human needs and livestock sustenance.
Temporary assignments may specify a proviso for water conservation measures that is reasonable and appropriate given conditions of the drought and water supply at the time.
Alberta's 13 irrigation districts deliver water to over 500,000 hectares of land to grow 42 different crops such as sweet corn, potatoes, sugar beets, dry beans, wheat, barley, alfalfa, specialty crops and many types of vegetables. The districts also deliver water to 48 communities and thousands of rural households. The water allocated to the districts collectively is approximately 3.4 billion cubic metres of water annually, 63% of which is used on-average.
The Alberta Irrigation Projects Association (AIPA) is a facilitating umbrella organization of the districts which helps the districts achieve the goal: "We seek after the highest standards of water management in support of the economic and social well-being of Alberta's people and the health of its landscapes and water resources."
In the year 2001, a year of severe drought, the irrigation districts worked with other licensees, facilitated by Alberta Environment and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, to share water so that water would be available for communities and other agricultural operations. This spirit of community cooperation among nearly all licensees was recognized with an award from the Irrigation Association, an international organization based in the USA. It is in that spirit of community cooperation that the Irrigation Districts of Alberta make the above declaration. AIPA member districts include:
|Aetna Irrigation District||Raymond Irrigation District|
|Ralph Price - Secretary||Gordon ZoBell - General Manager|
|Box 1800, Cardston, Alberta, T0K 0K0||Box 538, Raymond, Alberta, T0K 2S0|
|Phone: 403-653-4441||Phone: 403-752-3511|
|Bow River Irrigation District||Ross Creek Irrigation District|
|Richard Phillips - General Manager||Mat Zmurchyk - Manager|
|Box 140, Vauxhall, Alberta, T0K 2K0||11501 Range Road 40|
|Phone: 403-654-2111||Cypress County, AB, T1B 0K2|
|Eastern Irrigation District|
|Earl Wilson - General Manager||St. Mary River Irrigation District|
|Bag 8, 550 Industrial Road||Tom Crooks - General Manager|
|Brooks, Alberta, T1R 1B2||1210-36 Street North|
|Phone: 403-362-1400||Lethbridge, Alberta, T1H 5H8|
|Leavitt Irrigation District|
|Jason Comin - Secretary/Manager||Taber Irrigation District|
|Box 1800, Cardston, Alberta, T0K 0K0||Kent Bullock - General Manager|
|Phone : 403-653-4441||4420 44 Street, Taber, Alberta, T1G 2J6|
|Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District|
|Alan Harrold - General Manager||United Irrigation District|
|334-13 Street North, Lethbridge, Alberta, T1H 2R8||Fred Rice - General Manager|
|Phone: 403-327-3302||Box 1006, Glenwood, Alberta, T0K 2R0|
|Magrath Irrigation District|
|Low Hansen - Manager||Western Irrigation District|
|Box 322, Magrath, Alberta, T0K 1J0||Erwin Braun - General Manager|
|Phone: 403-758-3400||Box 2372, 105-900 Pine Road|
|Strathmore, Alberta, T1P 1K3|
|Mountain View Irrigation District||Phone: 403-934-3542|
|Jocelyn Wright - Secretary/ Manager|
|Mountain View, AB, T0K 1N0|
Richard Phillips, Chair
Alberta Irrigation Projects Association